Having undergone extensive speculation and deliberation, Siddaramaiah has been elected as the next chief minister of Karnataka by Congress. The 75-year-old leader’s widespread popularity and strong administrative abilities have given him an advantage over DK Shivakumar, who actively competed for the coveted position as a troubleshooter.
It has been reported that Shivakumar will retain his position as president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). His responsibilities within the party will include his deputy post and crucial portfolios.
The Deccan Herald has further reported that Shivakumar has scheduled a Congress Legislature Party meeting in Bengaluru this evening at 7 pm. It is anticipated that Siddaramaiah’s name will be considered during the meeting.
Several reports suggest that the party has decided to implement a two-and-a-half-year rotational tenure system for its leaders. In this arrangement, Siddaramaiah, who is 75 years old, will serve as chief minister for the first half of the term, after which power will be transferred to DK Shivakumar.
The 61-year-old KPCC chief said he was willing to make personal sacrifices for the betterment of the party and to support the Gandhi family.
Following the victory on May 13th, both Siddaramaiah and KPCC president DK Shivakumar have openly expressed their desire to become chief minister. Recognising the significance of the matter, the party’s central leadership summoned them to New Delhi for discussions.
What drew the voters to Congress?
According to political analysts, one of the factors that attracted voters to the Congress was the party’s emphasis on corruption within the Basavaraj Bommai-led government. They initiated the PayCM campaign, featuring posters with a QR code spread throughout the state before the elections.
Upon scanning the code, individuals were directed to a website called ‘40% Sarkara,’ which accused the BJP government of charging a 40% commission on public projects. The Congress party’s focus on corruption resonated with voters and contributed to its appeal.
Additionally, Congress’ focus on local issues contributed to its victory in the state. Congress made five key electoral promises in the recent release of its manifesto.
These included providing 200 units of free electricity to all households (Gruha Jyoti), offering monthly assistance of Rs 2,000 to the woman head of each family (Gruha Lakshmi), distributing 10 kg of rice free of cost to every member of below poverty line households (Anna Bhagya), providing a monthly allowance of Rs 3,000 for graduate youth and Rs 1,500 for diploma holders (between the ages of 18 and 25) for two years (YuvaNidhi), and introducing free public transportation for women in buses.
Congress garnered support during the elections by addressing these local concerns and offering comprehensive proposals. It also benefited from the Muslim vote, comprising almost 13% of the electorate. As a result of his advocacy for broader alliances between Dalits, OBCs, and Muslims, Siddaramaiah played a significant role in consolidating this support. He promoted unity among these communities and contributed to the Congress party’s favourable election results. To secure Muslim support, Siddaramaiah’s inclusive approach and focus on building a coalition of diverse voter segments played an important role.
Why Siddaramaiah over Shivakumar?
With both leaders displaying strong determination, the Congress faced a challenging decision but eventually selected Siddaramaiah on Thursday. Several compelling reasons led to this decision in favour of his candidacy.
There is no doubt that Siddaramaiah enjoys substantial popularity among the general public in the state. Based on a Lokniti-CSDS pre-poll survey, over 40% of respondents voted for Siddaramaiah over outgoing BJP Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai by nearly 20 percentage points. In comparison, Shivakumar ranked lower in terms of popularity.
The Kuruba and Muslim communities both support Siddaramaiah. As a result, he has influence over nearly 70% of the 224 constituencies in the state, including Lingayat and Vokkaliga seats.
Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) also consider him a good choice because of his widespread popularity. Out of 135 winning MLAs, Siddaramaiah is regarded as a seasoned veteran who is supported by at least 90 of them.
Siddaramaiah’s selection is also motivated by the upcoming 2024 general elections. To mount a strong campaign, the party recognises the importance of securing the votes of Kurubas and Muslims across Karnataka.
Besides the above-mentioned factors, Siddaramaiah’s administrative experience is also important in Congress’ choice. In the southern state of Karnataka, he is one of the few leaders who have completed a term as governor. Given the state’s current financial challenges, especially due to the previous government’s debt burden, this experience is deemed valuable.
Congress party’s “five guarantees” are widely viewed as pivotal to their electoral success, and Siddaramaiah’s administrative experience is expected to contribute to their realisation.
Siddaramaiah has also been a vocal critic of right-wing ideologies and shares a strong bond with the Kannada intelligentsia. While he emphasises that he is not anti-Hindu, he takes a strong stance against Hindutva. As a leader with strong ties to the Kannada intelligentsia and a critical view of right-wing agendas, he is well-suited to address cultural and ideological concerns.
Now that the decision has been made, attention shifts to Bengaluru’s Sri Kanteerava Outdoor Stadium on May 20th, where the new Karnataka government is scheduled to be sworn in.
According to News18, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge will invite opposition leaders to the ceremony. Prominent figures, including the Gandhis, Congress Chief Ministers, and senior Congress leaders, are expected to attend the event in Bengaluru.
Reported by Matrika Shukla.